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Sept 30, 2020: Biden to Trump: "Shut Up, Man"

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Joe Biden faced Donald Trump last night in the first of three presidential debates. Trump tried to make it Wrestlemania, but Biden gave as good as he got.

Meanwhile, internal company documents show that Amazon has effectively covered up a major safety crisis at its warehouses. It got worse after they brought in robots.

And lastly, a group of scientists have presented evidence that they have a new technique to produce a compact nuclear fusion reactor. If it works, that could be great news on the climate change front.


Biden: "Shut up, man"

The presidential candidates faced off onstage for the first time last night at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Hours before the debate, Joe Biden released his tax returns and called on Trump to do the same. For what it’s worth, via Reuters: Biden’s taxes showed that he and his wife Jill paid more than $346,000 in federal taxes and other payments for 2019 on an income of nearly $985,000_._ Trump, as is now widely known despite his refusal to share his tax returns, has paid next to nothing for most of the past decade.

Prior to the debate, Trump accused Biden of refusing to agree to an inspection for hidden earpieces. Biden countered by revealing Trump had demanded that the debate moderator refrain from mentioning the number of people in the US who have died from Covid-19. And all that was before the debate actually started. Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace was the moderator. He opened the debate with a question about the Supreme Court vacancy, which the candidates used as an opportunity to argue about the Affordable Care Act.

Trump, tacking left, pretended to be an enemy of Big Pharma and an apologist for Bernie Sanders. As expected, he played the bully toward both Biden and Wallace. Biden called Trump the wrong guy at the wrong time and, after one extended back-and-forth sniping session, said QUOTE will you shut up, man? ENDQUOTE. Because Wallace declined to offer fact-checking, Trump was allowed to lie with impunity. But Biden spoke at times directly to the audience, appealing to the head and heartstrings over grave matters such as the pandemic.

The next debate takes place on October 15.

In other campaign news, a new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News showed Biden leading Trump in Pennsylvania by fifty four to forty five percent among likely voters.

Amazon worker injuries growing

There is a growing safety crisis at Amazon. A new report by the website Reveal news, based on company records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, sheds light on the problem. The documents consist of weekly data from 2016 through 2019 from more than one hundred and fifty Amazon warehouses. They show that the company has profoundly misled lawmakers and the public about its mounting injury crisis.

Amazon often points to the tens of millions of dollars it has invested to enhance safety practices. Yet Amazon’s injury rates have gone up each of the past four years. In 2019, Amazon fulfillment centers recorded fourteen thousand serious injuries. The overall rate of injuries was thirty three percent higher than in 2016 and nearly double the most recent industry standard, Reveal reports.

The data back up the accounts of Amazon workers who say the company has used the robots to ratchet up production quotas. Now humans can’t keep up without hurting themselves. Injury rates are significantly higher at Amazon’s robotic warehouses than at its traditional sites. The robots bring items so quickly that the productivity expectations for workers have more than doubled. Workers called pickers previously had to grab and scan about one hundred items an hour. At robotic fulfillment centers, they were expected to handle up to four hundred an hour.

And for years, injury rates have spiked during the weeks of Prime Day and Cyber Monday, contrary to Amazon’s public claims. Those two weeks had the highest rate of serious injuries for all of 2019. In May, Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos said QUOTE Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our employees ENDQUOTE. Well, Jeff: prove it.

Fusion energy breakthrough reported

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they are on track to develop a compact nuclear fusion reactor – which, if true, could be a major breakthrough in the fight against climate change. The New York Times reports that the MIT scientists, through

a spinoff company called Commonwealth Fusion Systems, expect to begin development of the reactor, called Sparc, next spring. They expect to finish construction in three or four years. If successful, they could build a power plant that uses fusion to generate electricity in the next decade.

A fusion reactor would work differently than existing nuclear fission reactors, and mimic the process whereby the sun produces energy. The MIT announcement was accompanied by the publication yesterday of seven peer-reviewed papers in The Journal of Plasma Physics, in which researchers laid out the evidence that the Sparc reactor would succeed and produce as much as ten times the energy it consumes.

The research QUOTE confirms that the design we’re working on is very likely to work ENDQUOTE, said Martin Greenwald, deputy director of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center and one of the project’s lead scientists. According to Greenwald, Sparc takes advantage of a newer technology that uses so-called high temperature superconductors that can produce a much higher magnetic field. Commonwealth Fusion said it would announce a location for Sparc in a few months.


A juror in the Breonna Taylor case claims that Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron misrepresented the grand jury’s deliberations and may not have presented all of the evidence they needed to see. The unidentified juror also said, through an attorney, that the panel was never presented with the option to indict two of the three police officers involved in Taylor’s killing. Cameron has said he will release a recording of the grand jury proceedings today on a judge’s order, the Washington Post reports. Let’s hear it!

Amnesty International announced yesterday that government reprisals, including a freeze on its bank accounts, had forced the human rights group to abandon its work in India. Citing an incessant witch-hunt based on unfounded allegations, Amnesty India’s executive director, Avinash Kumar, said the government crackdown reeks of fear and repression. More than one hundred staff members will be laid off and the group’s work on such issues as police brutality will cease.

Military clashes broke out Sunday in Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region within Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since 1994. Fighting continued yesterday, with each side blaming the other and each contradicting the other’s claims regarding casualties. Armenian officials claim Turkey has deployed fighter jets to aid Azerbaijan. A European Commission spokesman urged everyone to QUOTE do everything they can in order to prevent an all-out war from breaking out, because this is the last thing the region needs ENDQUOTE.

Italian scientists reported Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy that they have found a network of salty ponds beneath the south pole of Mars, alongside a large underground lake. The lake is estimated to be twelve to eighteen miles across and buried one mile beneath the surface. The salt content keeps the water from freezing, and has scientists excited about the possibility for finding microbial life there. They say future expeditions should target this area of Mars. Let’s see them aliens!

Sept 30, 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw